3 Steps to Family and Neighborhood Emergency Preparedness was begun in Provo, Utah by two Neighborhood Emergency Preparedness Chairmen.  In 1993 they began developing an emergency preparedness plan which differs from other plans in that it concentrates on neighbors helping neighbors to be prepared.  With the cooperation of local civic and church agencies, these two chairmen organized their neighborhoods into small, all-inclusive, community-based groups of about 10 families each.  They helped large numbers of people from each of their neighborhoods to receive emergency response training, and they helped people in their neighborhoods to obtain emergency supplies.  3 Steps is a neighborhood plan created at a time when the world is sorely lacking in a sense of community.  This plan brings people together in the common cause of getting prepared, but does it in a way which builds community and gives people a sense of security and peace.

In October of 1998, the success of these two originating Provo neighborhoods came to the attention of Neighbors Uniting Provo, a non-political, non-denominational grass-roots movement of citizens whose mission is to work informally to unite, preserve, and renew Provo.  At the request of Neighbors Uniting Provo, the plan was presented to their City Action Committee comprised of:
The Provo City Mayor's Office
The Provo City Council
The Provo/Orem Chamber of Commerce
The United Way of Utah Valley
The Utah Valley Ministerial Association 
The Provo Board of Education
The Provo City PTA Council
The Provo Education Foundation
The Provo Education Association
American Red Cross, Mountain Valley Chapter

After reviewing the plan and consulting with their sponsors, Neighbors Uniting Provo decided to offer the 3 Steps plan to the rest of the community.  In January of 1999 they published the first edition of this booklet geared to people living in Provo and began to hold monthly public training meetings.  As interest has spread, other cities have adopted this plan; and it has become evident that a generic version of the booklet is needed to fit the needs of people everywhere.  Neighbors Uniting Provo now publishes this new version of the 3 Steps booklet under the name of  “Neighbors Uniting Neighbors” to fit similar grass-roots movements anywhwere.

The 3 Steps plan is designed to complement and enhance--not to compete with--the emergency plans of various community, church, and federal agencies.  Those who adopt it will need to work closely with leaders of existing emergency plans to insure harmonious cooperation.  Because the 3 Steps plan is designed to make response to a disaster possible within minutes and hours, it serves as a needed complement to those programs whose response times, of necessity, are in days and weeks.  During times of emergency, 3 Steps groups and procedures will dovetail seamlessly and harmoniously with existing plans of civic and church agencies. 3 Steps makes it possible for neighborhoods to maximize their ability to help themselves while providing needed information about the well-being of citizens at the grass-roots level to local churches, city emergency management agencies, and the Red Cross, etc.  This information is essential for any official agencies to be able to respond appropriately and efficiently to the needs of individuals.

This booklet, 3 Steps to Family and Neighborhood Emergency Preparedness, clearly explains how any person can implement this emergency preparedness plan in their own neighborhood.  In addition to diagrams, lists, and explanations, this booklet is also full of examples of the information fliers and order forms used in the two originating neighborhoods as the plan was developed.  You don’t have to re-invent the wheel.  Just follow the examples in this booklet.  For inquiries or to order copies of the booklet, click here.

Neighbors Uniting Provo wishes to express gratitude to its many sponsors for their help in making it possible to share this program with others. Thanks also to The Daily Herald ( for its support and generous coverage, which has made this plan visible to large numbers of people.  Our special thanks to a very wonderful PhD student for his countless hours helping us to put up this website.  Most importantly, thanks to the many neighborhood chairs who have taken on the responsibility of caring for the welfare of their entire neighborhoods by implementing 

3 Steps to Family and Neighborhood Emergency Preparedness.

A Personal Story

I'm a mom in the Edgemont 10th Neighborhood of Provo, Utah, who has always been interested in emergency preparedness.  About 10 years ago I watched a friend of mine who lives in the Provo Canyon Neighborhood help her neighborhood get prepared in the most clever way:  She divided her neighborhood into small geographical groups of about 10 adjacent families each and asked someone to be a captain over each group.  Then she helped everyone interested get emergency supplies and food storage by setting up "deals" and arranging "group buys".  She dealt with the captains, and the captains worked with the families in their Groups of 10.  It was incredibly successful, and I kept wishing someone would do it in my neighborhood.

After spending almost a year watching my friend's continuing success and waiting for someone to do it in my neighborhood, I finally decided to do it myself.  With a community project, I could do whatever seemed smart without any special permission from anyone.  Still, I didn't want to conflict with whatever the local church might have going on, so I talked to the local church leader and described the project.  He was thrilled.  As a community project we could include everyone, no matter what faith they belong to.  It was the first thing to come along that would unite everyone in our neighborhood under a common cause.

Within two days I had asked a couple of friends from my neighborhood if they would help me do this project, and together we formed the "Neighborhood Emergency Preparedness Committee".  We then divided the five consecutive streets that we considered to be "our neighborhood" into 12 groups of about 10 adjacent families each.  While most groups had 10 families, a couple had 11, one 7, two 8, and one 9.  It was easy for us to decide who would be good candidates for "captain" in each group;  and when we asked them if they would do it, all 12 said yes.  We then met with the 12 captains at my house and discussed how we could help each other get prepared by working together in these small groups.  Everyone seemed excited because it seemed like such a simple idea to help all of us achieve something we had all wanted to do but found difficult to get around to doing alone.  We decided it was the committee's job to do research and set up group buys, and the captains would then pass the information on to the families within their groups and collect orders for whatever we decided to offer.

The first project was water storage.  Within two weeks we had set up a group buy for new and used 55-gallon water barrels, had contacted every single family in the neighborhood about it, and had collected orders.  One day later we rented a 24' Ryder moving truck with an attached 14' additional trailer and drove to Salt Lake City to pick up the barrels.  Everyone donated $2 extra per barrel to pay for the truck and trailer rental, and when we got to the barrel company, the man dropped the sales price $2 per barrel!  We had so much money left over that we bought extra barrels, enough to allow every family in the neighborhood to store 25 gallons of water per person.  We came home with 276 barrels and delivered all of them by the end of the day.  It was a riot, and people loved that we had done this for them.  Everyone was happy.  Our entire neighborhood now had the ability to store a two weeks' supply of water, and all they had had to do was read our information flier, write a check, and give it to their captains.  This was the power of a community working together instead of 112 families individually trying to figure out a good way to store two weeks' worth of water and then each having to get around to doing it themselves.

After that, people were true believers.  We went on over the next year and a half to order siphon hoses, gas turn-off wrenches, wool blankets, water purifiers, 90-gal. roll-out garbage cans, caselot foods, 72-hr. kits, wheat, beans, powdered milk, wood, coal, honey, radios, first aid kits, wheat grinders, non-hybrid garden seeds, other grains, more beans, food dehydrators, oil, yeast, raisins, potatoes, cereals, porta-potties, recipe booklets, dehydrated foods, herbs, and many other food items, as well as sleeping bags, butane stoves, and fire extinguishers.  We also got dutch ovens and taught dozens of families how to cook in them and had several dutch oven cook-offs.  We then held a free financial planning seminar where an attorney taught people how to get their personal records and financial affairs in order.

After this, we knew we needed to do some kind of neighborhood emergency plan, but we couldn't figure out what.  For 18 months we slowed way down in our efforts and just taught people gardening skills.  Then the city invited me and my friend to take their CERTclass taught through the police and fire departments.  CERT stands for Community Emergency Response Team and is a seven-week, 21-hour course set up by FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) that teaches citizens how to rescue and care for their neighbors in a time of a disaster-level emergency when the 911 system would be overwhelmed and unable to respond to most private calls for several days or weeks.  It is a brilliant course and was exactly what we were looking for.  After we took the course, we helped 100 people from our two neighborhoods get similar training, which made it possible for us to have about six people in each "Group of 10" trained in simple rescue skills.

One idea that we adapted from the CERT course was to have each "Group of 10" select a STAGING AREAfor its group.  A staging area is a predetermined location within the group, such as someone's front lawn, where everyone from the group knows to meet as soon as possible after a disaster.  This makes it possible for the group to know within a few minutes who is all right within the group and who might need assistance.  From there, the group can organize itself to rescue and care for its own members, and can seek or offer assistance from/to other groups.

After taking the CERT course, we collected donations and bought 20 walkie-talkies for our two neighborhoods, which is enough for one walkie-talkie per group, an extra one for each of our Central Command Stations, and one for the Canyon Crest Elementary School principal, whose school with about 600 kids is located within my neighborhood.  The principal practices with us when we have emergency drills, and we practice with him when the school has fire and earthquake drills.  Our best practice so far has been a mock earthquake held in June of 1998 where we practiced our rescue skills, worked at setting up our staging areas, and also had a chance to discover a lot of weak areas that need improvement.

People ranging in age from 14 to 87 have taken the rescue training class because in working together as a group, there's a place for everyone.  Getting people out of damaged homes is only one of 11 jobs that would need to be covered at a staging area.  A group also needs to have people do child care, food, sanitation, first aid, supplies, communications, and other jobs.  Everyone is needed.  Twice a year we all meet together for a rescue training class review.

We're by no means done at this point.  Among other things, we have more to do to perfect the plan to help care for the school kids if a disaster happens during school hours and some or many families cannot get to their kids to bring them home.  I'd say, though, that our neighborhoods feel worlds ahead of where they were before we started this project.  We all know how to work together in a simple way with an idea that can work for us no matter what type of emergency may arise.  If we were to have a terrible blizzard that put out power, in minutes a "Group of 10" could reorganize itself to put families together in homes with wood-burning stoves or other heat sources.  If we needed to evacuate, within minutes a "Group of 10" could let every one of its families know the score with or without telephones.  In case of an earthquake, "Groups of 10" could help to rescue each other and provide simple medical care until more professional help could be obtained from other groups or other neighborhoods or finally from civic agencies.

As our committee has met with the captains, and the captains have met with their group families, a greater feeling of community, cooperation, and trust has been built.  My neighborhood has worked with my friend's neighborhood on most projects, which has made the whole thing easier and more fun for us both.

Now we're excited to share this incredibly simple idea with anyone and everyone else who might like to do it for their neighborhoods.  It just takes one person like me or my friend who is willing to be the one to do it.  Almost everyone wants to be prepared--especially right now.  And we can work together to help each other do it.  Your entire community can do this--it's unbelievably easy.  If we can do it, YOU CAN, TOO!